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Rugby | International Rugby

Julian Savea charged with assault



All Black Julian Savea, who featured in New Zealand's "It's Not OK" campaign against family violence, has been charged with assault following a domestic incident, rugby officials confirmed on Sunday.

His arrest has again put the spotlight on the off-field behaviour of prominent All Blacks and forced the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) to review whether there is sufficient support available for players.

"We were very disappointed to learn of this incident and Julian's subsequent charge," NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said.

"Without judging the rights or wrongs of this case, we are concerned that this is another incident involving a young player.

"We need to find out whether we are doing enough to help these young men cope with the pressures of the professional game.

"As a result of these various incidents, we will be undertaking an independent assessment of the support we provide players from their time of induction into the professional game."

Nicknamed "The Bus", the 22-year-old Savea, a blockbusting wing who scored three tries in his debut test against Ireland last year, will appear in court on Monday.

James Te Puni, the chief executive of Savea's Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby side, said the charge related to a domestic incident a week ago.

"I have spoken with Julian who is deeply upset to be in this position and now needs to deal with the situation," he said.

Te Puni said Savea had appeared on posters last year as part of a national campaign against family violence.

"Given that, Julian is embarrassed and apologetic he now finds himself in this situation," he said.

Although there has been no suggestion alcohol was a factor, it has been a central part of incidents involving other past and present All Blacks in recent years.

Earlier this year, Zac Guildford, who has a well-publicised history of alcohol-related problems, underwent a treatment programme at a private clinic after becoming involved in a brawl.

NZRU head of professional rugby Neil Sorensen admitted then that not enough had been done to help Guildford after his previous fall from grace when he ran naked into a bar and allegedly punched two men in 2011.

Jimmy Cowan, Sione Lauaki and Jarrad Hoeata are other All Blacks who have been in trouble because of drinking while Jerome Kaino, Dane Coles and Rene Ranger are reported to have completed alcohol counselling.

The New Zealand Herald reported last month that since 2008, 25 high-level players have sought professional help for alcohol and drug issues.

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